West Virginia retiree enjoys time spent with Honor Flight

October 15, 2018

Growing up in West Virginia Joe Taylor lived an enterprising lifestyle that knew a thousand and one ways to earn a dollar before he completed high school. His working career began at an early age and continues today even after his retirement as a volunteer. He’s now very active with a most worthy cause, as I am sure you will soon discover.

Before Taylor graduated from grade school, he worked part-time at Huntington’s old Beverly Theater. About the same time he hitchhiked with his older brother to the Guyan Country Club where they would caddy on weekends.

By the time Taylor attended junior high he pumped gas and washed cars at two different gas stations. He was also delivering the Huntington Paper and working at the B&B Food Market before graduating from high school.

“I was born in a coal company home in Jochin, West Virginia located at the head of Cabin Creek,” said Taylor. “My father worked as a company store manager for the Carbon Coal Company. He passed away when I was 5, after that we moved to Huntington to be near my grandparents. We lived in Marcum Terrace seven years until 1958 when mom remarried and we moved to 15th Street and 6th Avenue.”

One of Taylor’s earliest jobs consisted of changing the movie titles on the marquee two days a week at the old Beverly Theater. For his labor he received free admission to Saturday matinees with free popcorn and soda. As a caddy at the Guyan Country Club he also enjoyed free golf on Monday morning’s using members clubs that were thoroughly cleaned before being returned.

“The stores in downtown Huntington used to stay open till 9 o’clock,” said Taylor. “During Christmas season, the sidewalks were packed. One of my best Christmas presents was a nice battery powered radio that I took to Camp Arrowhead when I was in the Scouts so I could listen to The Lone Ranger.”

Taylor attended Gallagher Elementary where his mother worked as a cook. Because of this, his behavior could be

regarded as better than average. He played Little League Baseball for a few years but marbles were the rage back in those days, tournaments were even organized during recess.

“I started junior high at Lincoln,” said Taylor. “When mom remarried we left Marcum Terrace and moved into the Oley school district. I started delivering papers while attending Oley. I graduated from Huntington East High School in 1964. While in high school I worked at B&B Food market on 5th Avenue. Then I worked at a Sunoco service station washing cars and pumping gas. Later, I worked at my uncle’s Ashland Oil station in Kenova where the pay was better.”

Three months after graduating from high school, Taylor enlisted in the United States Air Force. He attended basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas and was shipped to Langley AFB Virginia where he trained to become a Supply Technician.

“Except for my temporary assignment to Seoul, S Korea I spent my entire career with the Air Force in Virginia,” said Taylor. Taylor’s assignment to Seoul wasn’t just an ordinary four month tour. When N Korea seized the USS Pueblo in January of 1968, Taylor became part of a massive buildup of U.S. Troops in S Korea. Everyone remained on ready alert expecting war to erupt before a peaceful solution was reached on the 23rd of December, 1968.

“After my honorable discharge I returned home and attended Marshall on the GI Bill,” said Taylor. “After my second semester I dropped out to take a job at the 20th Street Bank where I worked for two years as a teller. While at the bank I began dating a special lady who eventually accepted my proposal. Arbutus and I are still happily married today. I was later offered a position with Walker Machine Shop; I accepted and retired there 41 years later in 2014.”

Taylor has been part of a bowling league for years now, he never expects to earn that perfect game but he enjoys trying. He still likes a round of golf and he now uses his own clubs. While he enjoys his bowling and golf, there’s a hobby that is near and dear to his heart and that’s the time he spends donating to an organization called Honor Flight.

“I became involved with Honor Flight by answering an ad about becoming a guardian for military veterans touring military monuments in Washington, D C,” said Taylor.

“That was 2013, I’ve been involved ever since and love everything connected to this great organization.”

Honor Flight is not a club of any sort; it’s a nonprofit organization whose sole mission is transporting veterans to Washington, D C free of charge to tour monuments that were built in their honor. Taylor is part of a volunteer group who devote their time free gratis making sure these flights to Washington become a reality. He helps raise funds with every pancake breakfast, bingo games, concessions at car shows and the bimonthly information booth at HIMG.

“I’ve been a guardian on honor flights from Clarksburg, Columbus and Huntington since 2013,” said Taylor. “I also act as one of the bus captains in Washington making sure special needs are addressed and taking roll call at each stop. It’s a rewarding experience being involved, something I can’t imagine ever giving up.”

If you’d like to donate to this organization you can easily do so by going on line to info@honorflighthuntington.org The current cost for each flight to DC is $72,000 and it keeps going up.

“The address listed above also contains applications that can be printed out and sent to request attendance on honor flight to Washington, said Taylor. “There’s also information about addressing special needs like chairs, oxygen requirements, medical requirements, meals and other special needs. Nothing gets over looked; even the buses are equipped with chair lifts. If you’re a veteran these trips cost you absolutely nothing.”

If you have an interest in becoming a guardian, you will be responsible for the well being of the veteran assigned to you. You could be required to push a wheelchair at each stop during the day or any number of tasks throughout the trip. Detailed information and questions related to specific requests can be directed to 304-634-2393.

As a matter of interest, the next Honor Flight is scheduled to depart Huntington on Saturday, Oct. 27. More than likely it’s full but calls may be made to 304-634-2393 to be sure.

Clyde Beal seeks out interesting stories from folks around the Tri-State. Email archie350@frontier.com.